Assessing the Potentials of Rural Communities for Housing Provision in Ghana

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Housing is a fundamental piece of human development. During the last decades, the importance of housing in the development arena and how it can improve living standards has been extensively discussed. Housing has particular characteristics since it encourages development from two directions. On the one hand, by improving living conditions at household level and on the other, by promoting economic development of a complete country, since construction is a relevant economic sector. For the purpose of this study, housing is defined as a process; since every house is in constant change and evolution, it has not a clear end, but it is dynamic. For this reason, housing processes are a crucial area of development that is permanently generating needs and satisfactions. Rural communities face up to housing with different challenges and advantages than urban centres. Housing in rural areas normally lacks sophisticated materials or skills, and it is developed by self construction. In these facts, that at first look may appear just as constraints, potentials that promote and improve housing processes in rural areas can be found. In these places several resources can be used more efficiently, helping to develop better places to live. In spite of this, many of them remain underutilized or are disregarded by the community. The case of Ghana is not different; in fact rural communities share most of these characteristics. So, it is possible to observe how living conditions in rural areas in Ghana are lower than urban centres, which have also encouraged people to migrate to cities with all the associated problems. Having this in mind, this study was aimed at finding potentials of rural communities for housing development and to assess them in order to find paths to improve living condition in rural areas. The research was organized according the basic factors affecting housing development namely; Building materials, Labour, Land, Finance and Infrastructure. Later on, these factors were used as a guide to analyse and establish the potentials. For this purpose, the study was developed through field work in order to ABSTRACT iii collect useful and reliable data about housing processes in rural areas. The field work was performed in the Ejura-Sekyedumase District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. This District counts with similar characteristics than other sectors in rural Ghana, therefore it is expected that some of the results can be extrapolated to other areas. Also secondary sources of data were used to contrast the results with national trends. The field work consisted in interviewing community members and authorities of the District Assembly to collect information regarding housing production and conditions. Later on, through an exploratory approach, the data were contrasted with the housing development factor to find potentials and constrains. As an outcome, the study found potentials related to availability of raw building materials, labour and land. Also, it found potentials concerning the willingness of people to develop their houses and to invest their work and money on it. However, these potentials were limited by a low educational level and poor infrastructure. So, this study made recommendations to promote a better use of these potentials, overcome these constraints and improve the living conditions in rural areas. The recommendations are addressed to improve the construction techniques, the skills of labourers, and the access to the distant rural settlements.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi In Partial Fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management